Is Your LinkedIn Photo up to Par?

Written by Tiffany Adams, CELI President. Click here for national publication of article. 

Reader’s Question:  My LinkedIn photo is outdated and unprofessional.  Before I update it, do you have any advice about taking a modern headshot?

Kudos to you for doing due diligence to ascertain what works and doesn’t work.  Unfortunately, LinkedIn (LI) is riddled with questionable profile pictures that undermine our credibility.  You will never have a second chance to make a favorable first impression when it counts the most.  Your LI photo is often what people initially see and judge in a New York minute.  It is your virtual handshake.

It’s hard to believe that LinkedIn was created just twelve years ago in 2003, and now their ultimate goal is to attract 3 billion registered members out of the world population of 7 billion.  LI is a powerhouse network, if used correctly.  Clearly, LI members are front and center on the world stage, and should look the part.  According to market research, the average number of LI connections is 930.  Are you there yet?  Simply uploading a photo can increase your profile views by 11 times, putting you on the path to building more business relationships. 

First, get the right app.  I don’t mean purchase the correct software application.  Instead, remember this acronym, APP, which describes the three criteria every LI photo should have:

APP:  Approachability, Properness, and Professionalism.

Second, raise your self-awareness and avoid these poses:

  • The Phantom Ghost – This is the haunting default photo that LI automatically inserts when no photo is offered.  It looks like a ghosted silhouette.  At a recent networking event, I conducted my own survey asking what types of people don’t upload a LI photo.  Three responses prevailed:  1) Older people who are not tech savvy, 2) Indifferent or lazy users, and 3) Unaware users who don’t grasp the importance of having a completed LI profile.
  • The Angry Arm Crosser – People pose with their arms crossed hoping to personify a strong leader.  On the contrary, this body language screams, “I’m angry, defensive, or closed off.”  
  • The Facebook Lovebirds – Your profile page is about YOU.  Save the photos with your devoted partner or beloved pet for Facebook.  After all, when you secure the job interview or meet for a networking lunch after making a LI connection, will you be bringing your partner along too?  I think not.
  • The Creepy Crop – Attempting to crop out other people when your face is the subject matter always looks unprofessional.  Cropping often brings in a random body part of another person, such as someone else’s hair, hand, or arm.  Awkward.
  • The Head Tilter – Ladies, when we don’t hold our heads upright during business conversations or for a photo, we aren’t taken as seriously.  Avoid the head tilting crutch.  You are not posing for a high school senior picture.
  • The Cool Dude – Remove distracting barriers, like sunglasses, which are perfect for the beach, not for business.
  • The Fierce and Full-bodied – The real estate that LI allows for the photo is limited to a tiny, square box.  Full-bodied shots make you seem less approachable, as opposed to a closer head and shoulder pose.  Gentlemen, watch the power poses where you cross an ankle over a knee or cross your legs on top of a desk.  The soles of your shoes are inevitably revealed.  In some cultures, displaying your soles is culturally offensive, because shoes and feet are considered unclean.  LI is a global network calling us to be culturally competent world-class citizens.
  • The Drama Dresser – Depending on your industry and position, dress appropriately.  Avoid donning overly formal attire or overly casual attire.

There is no time like the present to invest in your online presence by uploading a professional headshot.  Let’s exercise smart “netiquette”, and leave the ghosts for the cute Snapchat logo, instead of, in your LinkedIn profile!